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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Upcoming Shooters

I am an avid FPS and TPS player. These games are my bread and butter. There is nothing better than laying down a hail of bullets on some unsuspecting player via XBOX live. Though there is nothing worse than having the same dealt back to you. 2011 promises to be a year ripe with great games, including a few standouts from the shooter genre.

Battlefield 3

Persistent damage = Persistent fun!

This game is the true sequel to Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. It is one a lot of people, including myself, have been waiting for. Bad Company and BC2 were nice and all but I just couldn’t get into them. Battlefield 3 has so much support behind it at EA that it seemingly can’t fail. They even pulled their PC title Battlefield 1943 and some of the resources from their Free-to-Play Battlefield Heroes, not to mention putting the brakes on some BF:BC2 PC updates.

DICE boasts their new engine, Frostbite 2. Patrick Bach, the executive producer, has been quotes as saying, “Frostbite 2 is, I would argue, the best piece of technology on the market when it comes to building games.” The studio has been working on the engine for at least 5 years, possibly even during the development of Battlefield 2. The main focus on the engine is to fully utilize current-gen systems for their upcoming releases. This means that the PS3 or Xbox360 will be chugging away hastily rendering all of the lighting effects and errant debris each and every RPG blasts from a building wall. And yes, the environments will be nearly fully destructible! Color me giddy! The release is not yet confirmed but is suspected to be Oct 2011.

Gears of War 3

The Coletrain is getting nostalgic for his old Thrashball competitors.

While Gears 2 left a bad taste in peoples mouth Epic Games has stated that it has learned from its mistakes. Slated for release Sept 20, 2011 Gears of War 3 will hopefully be the standard bearer for 3rd person FPS. The original Gears pitted 2 teams of 4 in 3 round based gametypes spanning human environments turned hellish by underground dwelling Locust Hordes. The fast paced action and twitch aiming brought in many fans. Lo and behold the sequel Gears of War 2 tuned back the twitch and reflexes and bolstered new ways for carnage, but just didn’t feel ‘Gearsy’.

Gears 3 has a beta releasing soon which can be accessed through your copy of Bullet Storm. You did buy Bullet Storm right? Me either, hah, don’t worry though those BS buyers just get it early. In the beta players are going to be able to test out many new(and improved) features such as executions, ranking system, game modes. Also there are unlockables for the full game given out in the beta: A gold retro-lancer and Cole’s Thrashball costume are confirmed. This is a great feature to get people to play the beta because you actually get to keep some of the content you earn.

Modern Warfare 3

Not much is known about this game, but it matters not. The last two Call of Duty games broke record sales all time and in their first week. Some may say it is time to move on from this franchise but the market doesn’t lie. The release is speculated for November 2011, which makes sense as a CoD game has release in that month the past 2 or so years.

Will there be hackers? Will Infinity Ward do a good job with hit detection? Will you find Makarov? All of these questions have yet to be answered. And sadly I can’t point you in the direction of people who can. All I know is I will probably buy the game, and play it… way too much. But to be honest there are other games I am more excited about. Liiiiike…

Homefront

Another screen with a huge explosion!

Dropping March 15 Homefront is a large scale FPS set on American soil after North Korea invaded a crippled US. The premise alone has been enough to keep me salivating for more details. And everything that is revealed delivers. There will be a slew of drivable vehicles and user controlled war machines ranging from artillery to helicopters to armored troop transports. Drones will play a part as there will be UAVs and land-bound robots.

The game system works on BP, or Battle Points. Every action you take will net you BP which can then be used to purchase items in game, such as an Apache. The BP do not carry over from game to game, so it is sort of like a killstreak reward system that works for things other than kills too. Homefront is an ambitions project but one that I hope will turn out amazing. It’s dedicated servers can’t hurt either!

There are others, such as Ghost Recon Future Soldier and Brink, but I am in the dark on these titles. If you have any info or want some please post a comment or send me a message and I will do some research and post up a preview of any game I missed.

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Posted by on February 28, 2011 in Console, FPS

 

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Stacking(Xbox arcade) demo

Title shot, showing the art style and some of the characters.

A game about dolls?! No way, thats lame. A game about RUSSIAN STACKING DOLLS???!!! HELL YES! This quirky title, made by Double Fine , starts out with a oldschool film-style scene with a family of dolls talking to each other through text on the screen. The father figure goes out and some time later a Baron comes to the home to take the children to ‘work off their debt’. It turns out they were tricked and kidnapped. You are Charlie Blackmore the smallest child, who was left with the mother and you set out on an adventure to save your family.

A short ride on the rails with Levi the hobo takes you to the “Coalition of the Unwilling” where slaves and children, and children slaves, are shoveling coal. The main quest starts out with getting the Train Guild to end the strike. After you enter the train station you are introduced to the main mechanic of the game. STACKING! It is pretty cool. You literally enter the body of a doll 1 size bigger.

Each doll has an ability such as “Sip Tea” or “Rancid Belch”. Some of these abilities seem to not be useful but I am sure at later points in the game they are used in puzzles.

The main game mechanism, children control adults!

After doppleganging the keymaster and unlocking the main gate you make your way into a promenade… yeah I said promenade… the game is set in some weird upscale euro style time so get over it. You can literally spend an hour just stacking around in this large room. The puzzle for this next part of the quest involves getting everyone kicked out of a bar so the Train Guild can do their work, or something or other.

There are multiple solutions for every puzzle. The one I chose was to take over some hotty doll and seduce the guard, then hop in the guard and go into the bar. Once in the bar I hopped out and freaked everyone out because I was an ‘uninvited guest’. After this was complete all it took to end the strike was to stack up the members of the Train Guild and move them to the train floor, this freed your brother.The next task was to find the whereabouts of your sister.

The collections area is cobbled together by Levi the hobo, which shows you your progress on dolls stacked and what items you have acquired. There is also a sub menu that allows you to read bios on every doll you encounter. It is a little sad that you can only get 17/18 of the unique dolls in the demo area because the 18th requires a 4th stack size, only available in the 2nd and beyond levels.

I highly recommend this title, it oozes style and is fun for the whole family. Also getting all of the little achievements and multiple solutions for all the puzzles is a real blast. Even the multiple solutions have multiple solutions so there is replay value there for a while. And for 1200 MS points it isn’t bad, considering MW2 got the same amount from us for 3 maps at a time.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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nail’d demo

I am not one for racing games really. My favorite series has to be the Burnout series, though I entirely skipped the last release, Paradise. The last racer I played was Test Drive Unlimited which was extremely fun on Xbox Live. Before that I dabbled in the original Dirt, so you could say I am a little behind on the racing genre.

Back in m day...

The graphics on this game look ok. Or maybe it is just the blur effect that occurs when you go over 15 MPH. The controls are pretty standard, RT is go, LT is stop, X is boost…and you guessed it, I never once hit the LT. Steering was lackluster, basically taking no skill or thought. Keeping in mind this is a very arcade racer I let it go. But boosting seemed to have no effect on my steering or ability to control the vehicle. This I could not overlook.The boost system was like Burnout’s, where you got boost for doing risky maneuvers. Yet it was not as clear or rewarding as that of Burnout, so it is of little importance to me.

It was difficult to do anything in the game without getting “nail’d”. I think the point of this game is to leave the most of your own body parts on the track, instead of win the race. It seemed that nearly everything, even landing jumps or taking a turn too high would result in your quad exploding in a fiery ball of fire.

Now entering The Bone Zone

I had a hard time breaking single digit positions, even out of 12 racers. Needless to say this is not a very sophisticated racing game but what did I expect Mario Kart Double Dash?!

My friend managed to break the top 5 one race, only getting wrecked, sorry¬† NAIL’D, 4 times. He went through a lot of the NAIL’D gates for boost and navigated the extremely vertical course with ease. I was shamed.

If you are a young adrenaline junky aged 8-15 you would probably enjoy this title. I can’t really see anyone with driving experience liking the game, nor anyone who actually rides motocross or ATVs of any sort. It will make for a good quick birthday gift or bribe for your stepson though!

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2011 in Console

 

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Dragon Age 2 demo review

I am stepping into this experience without ever having played any of the previous games in this series, so bare with me. Having said that, let it be known that I am a huge RPG fan. There’s nothing this guy doesn’t like more than some sword and board action. Well, I am more of a arching/stealthing kind of guy but you get the point.

After a 40 minute download of the 1.98 gig file I started it up, eager to get crackin skulls.

Ooooh, blood!

The game is developed by Bioware, a company that I am already familiar with as a fan of the Mass Effect series, and a follower of Star Wars The Old Republic(their upcoming mmo). I was rather surprised when I had to accept a ToS and another form at the main menu, apparently there is a setting enabled to give gameplay feedback, which EA will use to tweak the final release. Cool? So after looking through the settings and upping the brightness I started a play through.

You are immediately asked to pick 1 of 6(3) characters, a mage, warrior, or rogue, each have a male or female version. I ended up picking a male mage as it was the first one on the left. After a brief cutscene with a dwarf being man handled by a very scary she-beast you are thrown into a combat tutorial.

For the mage attacking takes the form of pressing buttons that are assigned to spells. A is a normal attack which can be ranged and when in melee distance is a magic imbued staff-hit. X is an ice spell which hits more than 1 foe, Y brings up the targeting mode for Fireball… this feature stops time and allows you a chance to see the action from a higher angle and aim the spell. B was Mind Blast, a sort of knockdown which also lowered aggro on the caster.
The conversation system has a small dial at the bottom with choices, not new to Bioware games. The center of the circle shows you whether your choice is good, neutral, or evil. This is handy if you can’t grasp the nuance of a situation.

When I leveled up I found that there are several stats to allocate points into, like all games with this system some are not suited for all classes. Mages should generally stay away from strength and Warriors intellect etc. Yet some stats, such as magic, have secondary effects like lowered magic damage incurred. This could be useful for hybrid specs. Along with the stat allocations I was directed to the skill tree, or more like a skill map. There were 6 seperate ‘roads’ for the mage, each having to do with a particular school of magic: Elemental, Primal, Entropy, Creation, Arcane, and Spirit.

To briefly detail each of the 3 available schools I will give an example spell/skill, there really are a lot… about 10 for each. The other 3 are locked as ‘level 99’ just so there is still some mystery to the game on purchase.

Creation: Glyph of Paralysis. The mage inscribes a glyph on the ground that paralyzes foes who cross its bounds. At level 1 paralyzes 1 enemy within 6m of cast for 4 seconds, the AoE lasts on the ground for 20 seconds, or until an enemy uses up its charges, it gains more charge and more effect as it is leveled.

Arcane: Elemental Weapons. (Aura, locks 20% of mages mana while active) While this spell is active, the caster’s staff channels its base elemental power across the entire party, enchanting the weapons of allies to give them additional damage.

Elemental: Improved Winter’s Blast. Winter’s Blast is now likely to freeze opponents and may leave some in a brittle state that warriors or rogues can exploit.

So as you can see there are several possibilities within the class building system, and hybrid builds are not only encouraged but it is highly likely they are essential.

Warrior Skill Roads

For your party members you can set tactics, or how you want them to automate themselves. There were several ‘settings’ that you could choose, like Damage or Healer. So if you were taking more damage than you would like just set the mage in your party to his healing role and he will cast the spells from that role. It works in a Target:Condition:Action manner, here are some examples:

Self:Surrounded by 2+ enemies:Cast Mind Blast

Enemy:Cluster of 2+enemies:Cast Fireball

You can essentially build your party exactly how you like, because you control their level up points, their skills, and even how they use these skills. The party members have slightly different skill roads to differentiate them from the main character and give each its own flavor. Overall it all seemed very fluid.

Pressing the right and left bumpers toggles you through your party members, so you can live vicariously through them and try out different classes while not actually BEING one. This is something I have not encountered before, and was useful for saving low health allies by choosing them and then kiting mobs around.

The demo is played out through a Fable-like linear area, with only 1 real path. Mobs kind of just trickle down the path towards your party, never really overwhelming you. Midway through Bethany, your sister and one of your party members, is brutally murdered by a boss mob. The mob picks her up and bashes her against the ground several times, causing blood to spill out of her mouth and chest. I was really pissed off at this because I had just given her the heal spell!

 

Bethany, just before her untimely death.

Shortly after this encounter you fight another horde of mobs until a dragon interferes and blasts them all to hell. A cutscene follows with Flemeth, who just turned from a dragon to a snarky witch, asking you to help her if she helps you. Imagine that! She trusts you with a quest to deliver an amulet to some elves. And at the end of this conversation one of your party members is afflicted with the corruption and you have to choose who kills him, his wife or the player… presumably this will decide how the rest of some story line goes. It is quite a sad scene, even though minutes before the dying character was inches from killing you and your party.

Apparently the witch takes you on a boat to Kirkwell, a big city area, where you meet Isabella who asks you to watch here back in a duel, which turns into an all out free for all after the gang is ambushes. In the time that has passed your allies and yourself have gained attributes and skills, and a new dwarf archer(who is actually narrating the story) is added to your party. Isabella brings on her own problems, she has wronged Castillon, a big wig in the slaving community and his minions want her head, also she wants your member bad. Your group easily dispatches 10 or so of them, though the archer has a hard time living through encounters with such low health… it is best to have him stay in the back and cast AoEs.

This is where the demo ends, it is pretty short for such a large file. I got a good grasp on all the classes from one playthru as it let me physically control each of the 3 character types. There were tons of features that will be present in the retail version that were locked in the demo, the inventory, over half of the skills, certain dialogue. All of this adds up to more suspense than just letting everything out in the open.

This will be a great addition to the Dragon Age series, and makes me want to go back from the beginning to actually see how much new content/UI etc is in this game. I probably should have done that before writing this review but oh well, deal with it.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2011 in Console

 

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Dead Island: Ruining your next island getaway with 100% awesomeness

Beautifully Gruesome

Zombie games are nothing new. The most popular, newest series is Left 4 Dead.. but before that there was Dead Rising, Resident Evil, Zombies Ate My Neighbors(see image below) even the quirky Plants Vs Zombies. As far as I know no game has broken the ground that Dead Island is set to annihilate. That ground is zombie filled free roam. Think Red Dead Redemption with zombies, oh… thats a real game? Well, think … uhhhh GTA with zombie… wait, thats been done? Ok so it isn’t new ground but its the first game that is Zombie themed and Free Roam together, instead of the zombies being an afterthought.

Somebody get that baby outta there!

The trailer for Dead Island is a masterpiece. The slow daunting music goes perfectly with the visuals we are shown. The fact that the here-and-now action is in reverse, and the flashbacks are in chronological order makes it even creepier.

And I was pretty sure they weren’t allowed to show horrible deaths of children! All I can say is wow. There is also a version that is played in forwards, but it just isn’t as glorious.

From what I have read about this game you are a vacationer on a gorgeous island resort, and after a night of partying you awake to (presumably) everyone else being zombied up. There of course are some other survivors, as the game allows 4 player coop. It is set in 1st person and there will be firearms but most of the gameplay has been said to be melee oriented.

If the game delivers half as much emotion and urgency as the trailer does I will be jumping for joy. I can only hope for scenarios that are half as gnarly as having to throw my mortally wounded kid out of a 5th story window because she was getting a bit nibbly. I get goosebumps every time I watch it, and I feel like I already know the characters in the 3 minute trailer. 5* for in-reverse head chops too!

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2011 in Console

 

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Call of Duty: BO Gold L96A1 1 day Montage (FandomRuck)

This is a montage created in 1 day by the player FandomRuck. He shows off some amazing sniping skill and some really clutch shots. The editing and syncing is pretty much amazing. Not to mention the filthy filthy dubstep mix playing as a backdrop to the head poppin. Theres not anything I can say that is a negative about this tage, 9/10 from me! Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2011 in Console, FPS

 

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MMOs, a How-To

At some point in time as a gamer we all come across an MMO, or Massively-Multiplayer-Online game. These range in form from the adorable and addictive Worms-esque Gunbound(which I technically do not consider an MMO) to the extremely hyped and well selling World of Warcraft. Today I will go through some basic concepts that will help you excel in whichever MMO you are currently wasting your time and/or money playing.

Gunbound, watch out Trico your running out of time!

Gain wealth and prosper

When I was a newer player to MMOs I would generally blow through my gold/credits/whatever currency fairly quickly as I was leveling up. This posed a problem for me because as the levels climbed things became more expensive, and some games may have gold sinks in place at certain levels in the form of mounts or housing that you must save your gold for to access these features.

My first piece of advice is to save your gold. Sounds easy right? But it is very tempting to buy a whole new set of armor every level from the Auction House. At first it seems like the extra 2 stamina and 3 strength from buying that new shiny helm is worth the 10g but 10g times 6-12 armor pieces every level is not sustainable.

A small jump in damage for probably a large lump of gold.

Get your armor mainly from quests and instances. The developers weren’t just putting items in all willy-nilly. They generally set up the gear progression to be able to keep up with the content. Yes there are some upgrades that are random drops or craftable as you level but try to only buy one or 2 of these pieces every 10 or so levels. You will outgrow them soon anyways.

Save your money for A) Mounts, as these will help you level faster because less travel time = more killing time, and B) End game, there will be tons of great gear for you to purchase at level cap. And if you get to max level with only 50g because you bought every piece of armor under the sun only to vendor it in 2 levels you wont be a happy Elf.

Micro, Micro, Micro!

The easiest way to up your game is to learn how to Micro manage. This can be as simple as changing your keybinds for your spells in WoW, or as hardcore as learning all of the Hotkeys for Starcraft and never click-activating again.

For MMORPGs the best way to be an efficient player is to refrain from clicking your skills as much as you can. Even actions such as target select, or friendly select can be relegated to a button. If the game supports macro functions(hit ESC, look at the menu and there should be a ‘Macro’ button there which opens a new macro building window) then you should google up some useful macros. A ‘macro’ is a 1 click button that will do a complicated series of actions for you which would normally require more than 1 button press or mouse click.

The below macro screen shows an advanced macro. It makes it so the player can cast a healing spell ‘Lifebloom’ without even pressing a button, all the player is required to do is move the mouse over the ally and if the spell is not on cooldown and that ally is not at full health the spell will cast.

A WoW Druid's macro screen

So yes, rewire your keybinds so that you no longer have to click health/mana potions with the mouse. Useful keybinds players may use are Q,E,R,T,F,G,Z,X,C. These are all near the WASD movement keys and are usually premapped as things such as Crouch, or Unsheath weapon… things that don’t really need to be mapped at all.

Grab a group

Even if you are just starting out and don’t know anything about the game, let alone anyone in the gameworld, you should branch out and try to make nice with some people. These guys will not only be a friend but they will more often than not end up helping you a great deal. It’s always more fun to have people to talk to and relate to so joining a guild or playing with the same group of people from day to day will enhance your experience.

A lot of MMOs nowadays use group content to form a barrier between casuals and hardcore players. With a guild or solid group of online friends these tasks will become markedly easier, though still may require a good bit of practice.  As an added bonus the group you play with will be likely to comp items to you or trade with you for a reduced price, further increasing your characters power.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2011 in Massivly Multiplayer

 

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